Panda wife let off by court,Italian may now be freed

She was among the seven whose release Panda had demanded for letting Basusco go.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Published: April 10, 2012 9:40 pm

Hopes for release of Italian tour operator Paolo Basusco brightened today after a fast track court in Rayagada district acquitted Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda,wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda,due to “lack of evidence”.

She was among the seven whose release Panda had demanded for letting Basusco go. Sources said the Italian,abducted on March 14,may be freed tonight after he receives a copy of the agreement signed over his 13-point demands.

However,there is still no breakthrough in the case of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka even as the deadline set by the Maoists for his release ended today. The Maoists have sought release of 30,including a hardcore rebel,in exchange for the MLA.

Arrested in January 2010,the 40-something Subhashree was released from Gunupur jail in Rayagada after the court cleared her in a January 2003 encounter case.

Subhashree said the government had no role in her release. “The courts have given me justice… Even now I fear the government may re-arrest me in another case,” she said. Subhashree also urged the Maoists to “abjure violence”.

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